Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dinghy the Sailor Cat

How does a cat know when it dies and goes to heaven?

Suddenly the service isn’t as good.

From a cat’s perspective, a boat is an M.C. Escher world: the galley morphs into the cockpit, a hatch on deck is a gateway to the stateroom, and the mast below deck is something to climb for a superior perspective of the salon. Our new kitten Dinghy is thriving in this 3-D life.

When she first got to the boat, after three connecting flights from Madison, Wisconsin to Brunswick, Georgia, our restless kitten sought out the boat’s most threatening dangers. She climbed through a hole in the cabinetry into the maze of live AC and DC electrical wires. Trained to come when called, she thankfully emerged un-charred for a “Scooby-treat.” Moments later, she nearly lost her front leg when she inserted the limb into our guillotine-style garbage bin.

Cats do get seasick. During our three-day offshore voyage from Georgia to North Carolina, Dinghy was miserable for the first 28 hours. Ever thoughtful, she vomited into her cat box. As the boat rolled from side to side, she assumed a commando crawl and slid port to starboard and back again (like a dust mop). Ingeniously, she picked to sleep at the boat’s pivot point, the most stable part of the vessel, the foot of the mast in the salon.

A sailor cat’s life isn’t all danger and suffering. No one can celebrate arrival into port (and the startup of air conditioning) better than Dinghy. Almost like young parents again, Dave and I found ourselves unsuspecting characters in her fantasy game of “Cowboys and Indians.” She enjoyed entertaining guests at dinner and curled into my lap to participate in the “adult” conversation.

Motor sailing the much calmer Intercoastal Waterway and sporting her fashionable harness and leash, Dinghy was a lady of leisure. Unfortunately, she’s slow to learn she cannot jump downstairs when tethered. Kitten repeatedly hung helpless, like a rock climber “on belay,” until someone came to her rescue.

Dinghy takes her responsibility for maintaining high crew morale seriously. She is a wonderful addition to our team. Even curmudgeon sailor Dave thinks she’s “purrrrrrrrrrfect.”

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